Congratulations! You’ve closed the deal, done the paperwork, taken the trade in, handed her the keys and introduced her to the service manager. (You did take her to the service department, didn’t you?) Now you can relax a bit and wait for the next prospect to arrive, right?
Wrong. You haven’t finished with her yet. She’s on her way home, enjoying that new car smell, and feeling good, bad or indifferently about the buying experience. I hope it was good, and you should too, because she is not going to keep it to herself. If she was happy with the experience she will tell her friends, family and associates about the treatment she got and how surprisingly smooth, easy and painless the whole process was. If the experience was poor, she will tell everyone.
If it was an unhappy experience, she will tell her friends, family and associates for sure, but she will also tell anyone else who will listen – the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. And years later, if the subject comes up in conversation, she will retell the awful experience all over again in excruciating detail. I got just such a story from my assistant when I asked her about buying her car several years ago.
Women are known to be viral marketing magic. They are twice as likely as male customers to give referrals. Moreover, they are also more likely to take another woman’s referral seriously. Women like to talk among themselves. They trust a recommendation from another woman more than one from a man that is equally familiar to them. And there is a sort of sisterhood in the sharing of experiences, and sheltering a friend from a bad experience or steering them to a good one.
Obviously, you want her buying experience with you to be a good experience she will be happy to share, but why stop at giving her a pleasant buying experience. Go beyond the close, and set her up to make her next car purchase from you. And while you’re at it, get her friends, family and associates to buy their next car from you too.
Once she has bought from you, there are some things you can do to keep her thinking kindly of you. You should always send a thank you note, telling her how you appreciate her business. This is also a great opportunity to ask her for a referral. Remind her to tell her friends.
Call her after she’s had the car for a few days to see if she needs help with anything, such as radio presets, garage door opener programming or whatever. It’s hard to absorb all those details on the familiarization session she had at the dealership.
Keep notes about your customers, and prospects, after they leave and go back over them from time to time. Look for opportunities to reconnect with her and find out about their needs. Maybe you’ll learn about her family member or a friend who is looking for a car. I will discuss the art of the referral in more detail in a future column.
You might be asking yourself who has time for all of this relationship building. Well, you have to fill those slow days somehow, so make use of some of that down time. It can pay off. Successful business people realize that it’s a lot easier to sell to someone who is familiar with you already than to go out and find someone new to convince.
Now, let’s recall my comment about introducing her to your Service Department. This is something uncommon in most dealerships, and it shouldn’t be. It’s a very important part of the establishment of a lasting relationship with the customer. If she is a happy customer of your Service department, and made comfortable with that experience, not only will she be more likely to use your Service but she will want it to be associated with her next car too.
Of course, all of this advice is relevant to male customers too. If you meet the needs of women, you will exceed the expectations of men.